9 June 2005 Edition
Sinn Féin TD visits Palestine
"I was struck by the similarities between occupied Palestine and occupied Ireland"
Dublin South Central TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, was part of a Leinster House parliamentary delegation that visited Palestine last weekend to view for themselves the conditions under which Palestinians are being forced to exist.
Ó Snodaigh said it was a "very informative" visit, which showed "the full extent of the Israeli land grab that continues in Palestine". The delegation, which included TDs and Senators from Labour, the Greens, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, met with a range of Palestinian parliamentarians, community groups, academics and farmers. During the visit, the delegation also laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat.
Speaking on his return, Ó Snodaigh said he was struck by the many similarities between occupied Palestine and occupied Ireland. He said:
"From the aggressive armed checkpoints to the hilltop forts and military spy posts — from the destruction and blockading of rural roads separating farmers from their land to the constant military overflights, it is clear the British and the Israelis have learned many tactics of oppression from each other over the years.
"Last weekend's visit was a real eye-opener. It was obvious to me that the aim of the Israelis and those who back them is to make a Palestinian state unviable. Every effort is made to disrupt the lives of the Palestinian people — to prevent them farming — to prevent them bringing the goods to market — to prevent them opening businesses — to prevent them from eking out an existence in their own land.
This trip also brought home to me the reality of the spurious claims that Israel is removing its settlements from Palestine. While they claim to be dismantling some, other settlements continue to expand across the Palestinian territories. The 'Apartheid Wall' continues to be built deep inside Palestinian territory — dividing communities and in places cutting them off from vital natural resources, like water.
"This is about an aggressive, heavily militarised state, breaking international law after international law, brazenly flouting numerous UN resolutions without sanction, trying to break the will the Palestinian people.
"It cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged by the international community. As Irish parliamentarians we have a duty to demand that the Irish Government send a very clear and unambiguous message to the Israeli Government that their actions will not go unchallenged. I will be demanding that the Irish Government take a more robust line in the European Union in relation to Israel and will push to have the Union suspend the preferential trade agreement it has with this rogue state."